The well-documented period history of racing and collector cars almost always comes to an end eventually, and the vibrant spirit of the car takes a rest as the car sits stored in a garage, museum, or in some cases even worse conditions.
The annual Pebble Beach auctions then become a unique and pivotal moment for some of these cars as they find new homes and await new chapters in their stories. Ranging among these are historic racing icons, unique examples of present and future collector cars and, overall, some of the most desirable automobiles currently on the road. In many cases, these are vehicles that are rarely offered for sale, making the opportunity itself just as rare as the vehicle displayed.
Across McLaren, Porsche and Maserati, both time and breadth have contributed to the significance of the cars offered at the 2017 auctions. Motorsports history and brand lineage span decades among those three, providing vastly unique looks into each period of the automotive timeline.
Porsche’s involvement across motorsports, and ongoing success as a road-car brand, provides this year’s auction with the most diverse array of consigned cars of nearly any brand at the auctions. From Le Mans competitors to the road cars that draw their excitement from those cars’ history, Stuttgart is credited with many of the main attractions at this year’s Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel sales.
The racing pedigree was heavily established at Le Mans, specifically as a result of the success of the 917. It was the first Porsche to win the 24-hour race outright in 1970, so what better car would there be to feature in the 1971 film Le Mans?
Along with Steve McQueen, the star of the film was a Gulf-liveried 917K, which was used for testing at Le Mans and subsequently in the film. It is one of the most recognizable examples of the 917 in the world, but for more than two decades it was entirely forgotten.
Following its use in the film, 917-024 found its way into the hands of a Paris-based collector where it ended up tucked away for a quarter century. Upon its escape, it underwent an extensive and accurate restoration which was completed earlier this year and is now being offered for public sale by Gooding & Co. at its Pebble Beach event next month. Preliminary estimates for the selling price is $13 to $16 million.
From that time period on, Porsche continued to deliver the most inspiring vehicles for both the track and street. It’s entirely possible that Porsche’s application of motorsports knowledge to road-legal cars is what has contributed to the desirability of the brand today, and it’s hard to argue that any other manufacturer has a lineup of cars competitive to the Porsches that will be crossing the blocks in August 2017.
It’s simplest to go through all the various 911s available, as the decades of evolution have spawned some of the most sought-after driver’s cars in the world. The 993 generation, the last air-cooled 911s, is lately what collectors are yearning for, and they will have the opportunity to scoop a Turbo S model which is one of fewer than 200 in the world. Equally as rare is the 993 GT2, which comes with similar power but ditches all-wheel drive and a bunch of weight as was the case in FIA GT2 racing. Examples of these cars will be offered at Gooding & Co., Mecum and RM Sotheby’s this month.
While the 993 has ballooned in value recently, the trend is looking the same with the 997 generation. The Monterey auctions will feature a handful of only the best examples of that generation, including a double dose of GT3 RS 4.0s, a GT2 RS, and a standard GT3 RS that wears an incredible paint-to-sample Viper Green. RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co. and Mecum will have that selection on hand.
The latest 911 to get the collector car treatment is the 911R of the 991 generation, which essentially translated a purpose-built track car into a driver’s dream through a six-speed manual transmission. It was limited to 991 units, and now a black one will take the stage at this year’s Mecum event, as well as a subtle silver R finding a new owner through Russo and Steele.
Even with the 911 being one of the most famous sports cars ever produced, it was occasionally taken over as the flagship by other legendary Porsche models. Those were few and far between, but when they came, they were game-changers.
The Porsche 959, Carrera GT and 918 Spyder, in that order, fought the entire world of cars, not just their individual segments. They attempted to dismantle the preconceptions of the automotive industry, and they succeeded. The 959’s advanced all-wheel drive system and tire pressure monitoring set the groundwork for many future advancements; the Carrera GT’s Le Mans-developed engine redefined “race car for the road”; the 918 Spyder’s hybrid technology created new ways for super sports car manufacturers to push beyond the once-established boundaries of the hypercar. RM will supply the 918, Gooding a 959, and Mecum both a 959 and Carrera GT.
Neither McLaren nor Maserati has quite the history with collector cars that Porsche does, but nonetheless the brands will feature exceptional cars at the August auctions – potentially millions of dollars worth.
One of Maserati’s classics is the A6, with its variations being among the most desirable coachbuilt Italian cars in the world. The A6G Zagato is an example of the classic motorsport brand working hand-in-hand with a locally-renowned coachbuilder to produce a genuine Italian masterpiece. The final A6G Zagato built will be next in someone’s collection as it comes to Gooding & Co.’s Pebble Beach sale where it may pull in as much as $5 million.
The vast history of coachbuilding and motorsports encompassed multiple generations for Maserati, and in the mid-2000’s the brand flexed its muscle more than it ever had before. The trident took the new pride and joy of its sister company, the Ferrari Enzo, and rebodied it to create the one-of-50 MC12. Already crazy enough, Maserati then turned the MC12 into a purpose-built racer for GT1, and followed that by building 12 more for private customers to enjoy as much as they wanted, for a trade-off of nearly $1.5 million. Now in 2017, we will see how the value of the MC12 Corsa has changed, through Mecum’s auction.
Bridging the gap between classic Maserati and motorsports heritage at this year’s auctions is a successful 300S that wasn’t only driven to victory, it was driven by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio. The 300S was a limited run of racing car that competed in the late 1950s, but the current owner of #3069 continued racing it across historic competitions around the world and is parting with it after 19 years of ownership. The Bonhams auction expects more than $6 million for the sale of the car.
Maserati and Porsche both have several decades of history, with the cars being offered writing the timelines of their respective companies. McLaren, as a road car company, has far fewer years under their belt in comparison. But at this year’s auctions, the pinnacle of each of McLaren’s first road cars will be coming up.
Before McLaren became a stand-alone company building and selling its own road car, the company famously teamed up with Mercedes-Benz to combine Formula One technology with the German engineering that went into Mercedes’ famous road cars. This resulted in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a luxury tourer with the performance of a supercar. This dynamic twin personality made the SLR a highly-desirable homage to the original 300 SLR racing car.
The motorcars up for auction represent wildly different but nonetheless unique examples of the SLR’s life. Appearing at Mecum’s auction is an SLR Roadster with a FAB Design bodykit, a treatment only given to 15 SLRs around the world. Another exclusive roadster is the 722 S, a limited run of 150 cars with the updated 640-hp power plant from the 722 coupe. The 722 S finishes near the top of the most sought-after modern Mercedes around, and Mecum will be offering one with fewer than 2,000 miles.
Following the success of the SLR, the debut road car that McLaren Automotive produced when it came back to market in 2011 was the MP4-12C, which was a formidable re-entry into the supercar market. Through its lifespan, it came in several forms, but none quite as appealing as the High Sport. If the HS term sounds familiar, that is because McLaren recently gave the same treatment to the 675LT, increasing power and aerodynamics, and named it the MSO High Sport.
But that car took its inspiration from the MP4-12C HS, a car limited in number even more than the MSO HS’s run of 25. Only five were originally built, with another five created as a result of demand, and number nine is now headed to Mecum’s auction. The significance of that particular chassis is that it was commissioned directly by former company Chairman Ron Dennis, and was uniquely designed with the livery of the F1 Vodafone racing team. The MP4-12C HS is the most powerful variant of the line, and one of the most exclusive.
Following that path of rare and high-powered supercars, McLaren unleashed the P1 to 375 willing thrill-seekers, and a handful have reached the second-hand market where they’ve commanded significant premiums, as much as 100% more than the original price. This year will be more of the same, as first owners are testing the water with their P1s and looking for a nice payday through their original investment. A pair of silver P1s will headline the car week sales, with one at both Gooding & Co. and Mecum and each looking to crest the $2 million mark.
And though the P1 has already made its impact in the modern hypercar contest, it won’t quite reach the long-term significance of the original McLaren hypercar, at least not in the foreseeable future. The F1, now 25 years old, set the bar immensely high when it debuted and to this day has not been rivaled in a variety of criteria. Because of this, it is quickly becoming one of the most wanted cars in the world.
This year, another F1 will change hands through the car week auctions, something that has become almost regular over the last decade or so. But given the importance of the Pebble Beach week in the United States, this particular F1 is unlike all the others.
Chassis 044 was the first F1 legally imported into the United States (of only seven), as it was federalized through the Ameritech process. Once it was approved for entry into the country and landed in the garage of its only owner, it was then safely and completely reversed to original spec, and all of those pieces needed for importation are included with the vehicle’s sale. The Show or Display amendment does, however, allow for legal road use of the F1 in the US regardless of the Ameritech upgrades. Bonhams does not publicly state a price estimate, but based on previous transactions and the way the F1 is escalating the collector car ladder, it would be no surprise for this F1 to crest $15 million on August 18th.
The RDS Automotive Group will be in Monterey to cover the various events of car week, so follow our Facebook and Instagram feeds from August 13th through the 20th for plenty of live content.